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Saudi Arabian Post-Script

Hello everyone. Well, it’s been over two weeks since we got back from Saudi Arabia, and I figure it’s time I try to make sense of the whole experience and maybe give people a sense of what traveling a bit in the Middle East is like. We had a lot of people ask us about our trip, and I was never really sure how to answer that question. The general answer was simply ‘different’. How can you summarize a place that is literally worlds away from your own home? Although I’m still not sure I can fully illuminate everyone, I’ll do my best to shed a little light on this corner of the world. For starters, I’m happy to report that we’ve got all of our pictures posted now in a single collection. There are pictures from Jody, myself, as well as pictures Andrea snapped with her new fancy-pants camera that she got over the holidays. Feel free to check them out on flickr. As an added bonus, I even put up a whole set of videos you can check out and laugh at. After you’ve gotten a suitable sense of our travels, come back here and read on.

Jetting over to Jeddah

Hello dear friends from around the world. When you last checked in with ActiveSteve, I had managed to successfully avoid creating a full-fledged international incident, but only barely. I can happily report that the next few posts will likely not contain anything quite as nail-biting, but will nonetheless be interesting posts about my activities over the last several days of our time in Saudi Arabia. The next chapter of our travels includes continuing our progress westward towards the ocean port of Jeddah , which also happens to be the city nearest to Mecca, that mysterious, mystical place completely forbidden to visitation by non-Muslims. No worries, I didn’t use my rapidly-growing beard as a disguise to penetrate the security there, as that would be sheer madness. The flight from Al-Ula was quick, efficient, and non-eventful. It was a pretty small plane, and surprisingly, we didn’t even get served a meal, which was quite a surprise to Patrick, who was of the belief that regardless of the flight duration in Saudi, you always ate ;-). Anywho, before reading on, check out the pictures from Jeddah that we took, then immerse yourself in my thoughts on this big seaside city.

Travels to Al-Ula

Well my friends, here it is. A worthy blog post about travels within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Not only would Jody and I be undertaking internal flights, but we were actually bound for Medina, which is one of the two holiest places for all Muslims. In fact, the city centre is completely forbidden to entry by any non-Muslims. Luckily, the airport is located outside the city, and our transport would be taking us all the way to our hotel without ever entering the city. Of course, the actual purpose of our traveling to this area was not to visit a holy Muslim site, as that is a very bad idea. We were bound for two very special places, one known as Al-Ula, and one known as Mada’in Saleh. These are areas of archeological and historical significance. Mada’in Saleh in fact has just recently been declared a UNESCO world heritage site, the first one of its kind in all of Saudi Arabia. We would be visiting these two sites together on the same day, but I would argue that each of them on its own is worth a blog post, so that’s how I’ll write them up and present them to you. For your pleasure, I have of course put up a whole boat-load of pictures to check out on flickr. So why don’t you do that, then read my story?

Final Days till Farewell

Back in Riyadh. Back in the diplomatic quarters. First couple days in the new year, last couple days in Saudi Arabia. So will go this tale. The time has come to wrap up the adventures in the desert for you all. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to write these posts, as time has elapsed since the events have occurred, and my memories and thoughts aren’t as fresh anymore. In spite of that though, I will be able to write to you all about our last couple days, as we did a number of interesting things that are worth writing about, including trips to more souqs, some more street food, some excellent shopping adventures, as well as a visit to Saudi Arabia’s national museum, a gem of a building. Rather than split the last couple days into two posts, I’ll just put them all in this one, and try to keep it succinct. After all, it’s time to move on 🙂 In an attempt to make it easiest on you, you may also want to just browse through the many pictures that we’ve put up from those last days on flickr. They’ll give you a good sense of what we were up to without even reading. However, when you’re done, come on back to see if I have anything interesting to say.

Christmas in the Kingdom

Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas. By the time you actually read this, it will of course be late on boxing day, but I have a good excuse for being a bit behind. I’m in the magical Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and have better things to be doing than blogging all the time. However, I can’t seem to help myself. When everyone else has gone to bed, or whenever I can steal a few minutes, I try to fire up the old computer machine and try to dash off a few lines, which brings me to this post. I wanted to get this fired up and online before we left for some internal trips for the next week. We’ll be away from Riyadh, and I’ll be unable to do any blogging while on the road. So this post will have to keep you entertained until we get back here to the Diplomatic Quarters. However, I can assure you that this will be a great little post, as we did some pretty unique things on Christmas day over here. Last year, I found myself at an all day cricket test in Auckland, NZ, and this year, I have a similar experience to share with you all, but you’ll have to read on to find out exactly what it is. You might also want to just check out the pictures on flickr that were put up from the day!